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‘The Golden Bachelorette’ Wants To Clear Up Misconceptions About Aging

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A longtime viewer of “The Bachelor” franchise and a firm believer in the show’s potential to help people find their match, Joan Vassos, the newly minted Golden Bachelorette, saw an ad seeking contestants for “The Golden Bachelor” and felt it was a sign to apply.

Vassos, a 61-year-old school administrator from Maryland, recalls the night she decided to apply. Her husband of 32 years had passed away two years earlier, and she had not felt ready to date again until then. While dining with a friend, she realized she was ready to put herself out there.

After returning home from dinner, she saw the casting call on TV for a new reality series focused on finding love in the second half of life.

On “The Golden Bachelor,” Vassos, who has four grown children and two grandchildren, became a fan favorite and formed an early connection with Turner. However, her time on the show was cut short when she decided to leave to return to her family.

Now, Vassos has been chosen to star in the first season of “The Golden Bachelorette,” a female-led spinoff where she will date men in their fifties through seventies.

With nothing to lose and ready for love after healing from her loss, Vassos shared with CNN her hopes for her televised journey on “The Golden Bachelorette,” which premieres this fall on ABC.

From life in “The Bachelor” mansion to challenging ageist stereotypes – and her thoughts on Turner’s brief three-month marriage and subsequent divorce – here are key takeaways from CNN’s conversation with Vassos.

The women of “The Golden Bachelor” formed a sisterhood

“I remember the first night I walked into the mansion, and I was really nervous because I didn’t really know how Bachelor Nation was going to portray us – we’re going to look like foolish older people dating – I was just a little apprehensive.

I walked into this room and I met all these lovely women and it was the first time since my husband had passed away that I felt like I was in a room with people that were just like me. They were single women in their sixties and seventies, and we all were looking for love. It’s not necessarily like a very dignified thing that you’re doing at this age. It’s kind of awkward honestly, so it was so comforting to be like – we were instant friends.”

Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist’s split after a three-month marriage surprised Vassos

“I loved watching their journey. I saw them fall in love. I believed just, like – they did that. They were like the perfect couple. I applaud that they jumped into this process with both feet and they were ready to find love and they knew what true love was”.

“They both had it in their previous lives. So, I applaud them for doing that and I also applaud them when they discovered it wasn’t perfect. That they called it quits and it’s not the end of the world, and we have to let them live their journey and follow their hearts and it wasn’t right for them”.

“I did not see it coming. They’re still good friends. I’m good friends with both of them.”

Her four kids all want her to find love. Making out on TV, not so much

“My first and third children are very into this. They think it’s really fun and like, what a cool experience for mom. My daughter Erica and my son Luke are a little, like a little cringey. Like, ‘Don’t kiss a guy on TV. This is gonna be really embarrassing. My friends are watching.’ But overall, all of them want me to find love.”

She wants to redefine what it means to be in your sixties

“I think there’s cultures in the world that revere the older people and they think that they have knowledge and they have this experience of life, and I don’t think that’s super true in our society.

So, I think (“The Golden Bachelor”) showed the side of, we’re not old. We don’t have canes. Some people on the show had hearing aids, but nobody could even see they had them. Growing old now is very different. We were all very fit, we exercised, we shared great stories about raising our kids and we learned so much from each other.

There’s a lot of knowledge that we have inside of us because we’ve lived life. In our culture, I feel like growing old is not a dignified thing. You’re just supposed to kind of fade in the back, take a backseat to the next generation. I’m hoping that we change that a little bit. We’re still fun and energetic and we know how to use our phones.”

She will never move away from her family for a man

“That was actually the first question that Gary asked me. We sat down for the first time together and he said, ‘You live in Maryland, I live in Indiana. How do you see something like this working?’ … My answer to him was – and it still is my answer – I think you almost have to live a dual life.

I’ll never leave my family. They are the most important people in the world to me obviously, and I would expect that to be the same for the person that I end up with because family is so important to me, that would have to be a key part of their personality.

You have to be willing to … travel and be with that person and maybe spend a couple of months or a couple of weeks at a time … and then maybe eventually, you figure out a destination that would work for you and your families or have another house where everybody gets together.”

She wants ABC to greenlight “Golden Bachelor in Paradise”

“Oh, my gosh. I want to be on it! Hopefully, I’ll have a husband and not (be) eligible.

I would love it. And I know the women that I was on the season with would be so much fun on ‘Bachelor In Paradise.’

I think if it does happen that Susan (Noles) should be the bartender. She should step in. She’s Wells (Adams), right? That’d be great. But I think she’s going to want to be on it as a contestant. I don’t think that’s what’s going to work. Maybe I’ll be the Wells! I’ve got to take a bartending lesson.”

She’s hoping to find her life partner on “The Golden Bachelorette” – but isn’t rushing into marriage

“If it ends up in engagement, I’m open to that. I do believe this process works. I’ve seen it work for so many couples on ‘The Bachelor,’ so I believe in the process. If it ends up in engagement, that’s great. If it ends up in, you and I are going to get to know each other better in the outside world, that’s perfect also. I probably won’t rush into a marriage right away – and not only because of what happened with Gerry and Theresa. I think it takes some time to really get to know somebody. Out in the wild, in the real world, you need to spend some time there.”

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